Photograph: Clayton Hauck
“We have been informed by the weather station that we have to get off the stage.” Of all the words, the howls and growls, and sssank yous the Icelandic chanteuse emitted Friday night, those were the most devastating. Not even her ethereal rendition of “One Day”—just her entrancing voice and a percussionist who gentle tapped and massaged what looked like a miniature flying saucer, but was actually a Hang—brought as much emotion from the crowd as when those sixteen words were uttered. We had been treated to an hour of Bjork’s otherworldly prancing and purring, and no one wanted it to end.
As the artist herself put it in a tweet later on:
i take my hat off for a chicago thunderstorm : had to leave out the last 4 stompers : get off stage : wouldnt do it for anyone else !!— björk (@bjork) July 20, 2013
But as for the show, while it lasted: The stage was a melding of sea and outer space steered by a tiny figure donning a metallic frock, glittery boots and a fiber optic headpiece that transformed her from a Scandinavian sprite to an alien bird of paradise who could control strobe lights and crashing synthesizers with the flick of her wrist. A 12-piece women’s chorus clad in blue sequins and fashionista warrior wear swayed and shook as the frontwoman’s enchanting song and dance transported every onlooker—which is to say, everyone in the park—to a unified happy place of joyful tears, the hugging of strangers, and uninhibited dancing. The solution to the divisive sociopolitical climate that currently plagues this country? I’m pretty sure it’s Bjork.
The woman’s a pro, and, as such, served up a vast smattering of classic and reworked cuts from her catalogue. The set included “Cosmogony,” “Hunter,” “Thunderbolt,” “Hidden Place,” “Heirloom,” “One Day,” “Joga,” “Pagan Poetry,” “Army of Me,” and “Mutual Core.” It was during “Army of Me” that the rumored Tesla coil dropped from the stage’s ceiling and provided an arresting visual; its pulsating bolts drove the baselines for that guttural thumper. But the seemingly harmless pink-and-gray clouds that had so perfectly hovered overhead, not to mention those refreshing wind gusts felt throughout the day, had indeed been too good to be true. The whole thing ended too soon. Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait another seven years for an encore.